LAHORE – A fresh alert was sounded across Punjab with intelligence input indicating the possibility of multiple bomb attacks on the Minhajul Quran march as procession left for the federal capital from Lahore on Sunday.

Apart from deployment of thousands of policemen on both sides of the route of the march, many leading arteries of the City were visibly closed down for the general traffic citing security concerns. The authorities also suspended mobile phone service in several parts of the city, shortly after the procession left the Model Town for Islamabad.

“We are monitoring the security situation of the long march very closely. Since the security is heightened across the province, the police in the districts (from where the march will pass thorough) are put on their toes,” a senior officer in the Central Police Office (CPO) told this reporter on Sunday. According to him several commandoes wearing bulletproof jackets are accompanying Mr Qadri, who was seen traveling in the bombproof vehicle.

Intelligence sources also confirmed the reports that the TTP is planning suicidal attacks on the rally besides assassinations of a few leading religious scholars. The intelligence and security forces have intercepted communication between the Taliban commanders and the bombers who were found discussing some details about the terror plot. “The agencies have received credible information about possible bombing on the participants of the long march. The threat is not only serious but also very strong,” a senior official in the interior ministry warned.

Different leading intelligence agencies including the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and the Special Branch have already warned that militants might attack the march. According to the Punjab govt, the banned TTP has tasked three suicide bombers to target the rally.  On early Sunday, the law enforcing agencies sealed off many parts of the City to ensure foolproof security for the protesters on the route of the long-march. Throughout the day, the police continued armed patrolling in the Gulberg, Model Town, Faisal Town, Canal Road, Garhi Shahu, Imamia Colony, Minar-e-Pakistan, Railway Road, Badami Bagh, Ravi Road, and in Shahdara area to keep a vigilant eye on the activities f the miscreants. The policemen also stepped up snap-checking of the vehicles at all the entry and exit points of the provincial metropolis to check the movement of suspected elements.

Hundreds of cops including well-equipped police commandoes were seen escorting the convey of Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri as it was set off from the Model Town Sunday morning. A special squad of the Elite police force is also escorting the vehicles of leading participants of the march. The Elite Police Force is directed to remain in touch with the police of different districts to ensure foolproof security for the participants.  According to officials, the police of concerned district will provide security cover to the marchers in their respective regions as per the plan approved by the police in consultation with Mr Qadri.

On the orders of the provincial government, more than 10,000 policemen were alerted for the security of marchers. On Sunday morning thousands of cops were deployed on the routes and other identified spots to maintain peace in the city.  The police commandoes and snipers were also be deployed at the rooftop of the high-rise buildings located on both sides of the route of the march in Lahore. According to police, no less than 200 plainclothesmen are also on guard among with participants to keep an eye on suspects.

Meanwhile, city police heaved a sigh of relief as the convoys of long march left Lahore for Islamabad peacefully on Sunday night.